Tuesday, December 10, 2013

In Which The Snow Brings A Safety Pause

I was playing bells at a Mount Mercy evening concert last week, and had ridden Francis to campus. One of the other people there noted my bike, and, as it turned out, is also a bicycle commuter.

We chatted, and this other commuter commented that he has learned to ride on ice and snow, and thus rides during the winter. I, on the other hand, will tackle cold, but not ice or snow. So my biking time is on hiatus until the Cedar Rapids streets and a few key sidewalks (along C Avenue and Blair’s Ferry) are clear.

It might be a while. We didn’t have much snow Sunday—maybe 2 to 3 inches—but it’s been very cold since, and we’re to get another dusting tonight. In a “normal” weather pattern, snow is often followed by cold nights, but within a few days there will be highs in the 20s. That’s below the freezing point of water, but if sun shines on shoveled pavement and the air temperature is above the mid 20s, that’s enough for much of the residual white stuff and ice to start to melt from the streets and be scooped away by the dry winter air.

It has not happened this time, however. Highs have not made it out of the low teens, the snow that’s around remains persistent, and more is on the way.

I don’t ride on the white stuff. It’s a personal rule I learned the hard way.

So, some thoughts on safety as I await a thaw. I noted today that, a new video is being promoted on social media.

I think the video is fine, although I doubt dangerous drivers will take the time to watch it. It’s actually fairly balanced, noting that bikers are responsible for road safety along with car and truck drivers. But it’s a reality of physics that a one-ton tiny car will trump even a 250-poind (290 or so with bike and bags factored in) biker guy, who is also not protected by a plastic, aluminum and steel frame.

I have more lights to add to Francis before my riding resumes. While I’m afraid fall semester rides are shot, I hope to hop back on the bike early in 2014.

Maybe, since we are having dead of January weather now, we’ll have our warmer December weather then. And may both bikers and drivers remain safe when the snow relents and bicycling can begin again!

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